Traveling to an exotic location is a dream vacation for millions of people, especially if by cruise line. The demand for new and exciting cruise destinations steadily grows, subsequently increasing the number of cruise ships out at sea. So, while millions picture themselves sailing away to a picturesque destination with the breeze in their hair, there’s a reality many have not considered. Case in point: airborne diseases.

Don’t believe us?

The concentration of harmful particles on cruise ships is 200 times greater than in rural areas; 20 times greater than in busy port cities. On average, thousands of passengers occupy a cruise ship, compounding HVAC usage in a short period of time. As a result, the amount of activity can wreak havoc on a ship’s HVAC system.

Have you ever heard of the Norovirus?

On Feb. 4, 2012, approximately 500 cases of Norovirus were reported on a pair of Princess cruise ships. In the same week, about 200 passengers aboard a Royal Caribbean ship departing from New Orleans fell prey to the same virus. However, these were not the only two incidences reported on cruise liners nor the only fatal disease reported.

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Where does the problem lie?

The source lies in a ship’s exhaust funnels, where toxic particles mix with dangerous fumes from marine diesel (and other heavy oils). These pollutants become suspended around a ship’s deck, patio and entertainment areas. Even worse, maritime air has a high moisture content, which when compounded with dust, dirt and debris in such small areas create the conditions for limited airflow.

Indoor air quality fares no better, as passengers are at risk of exposure to communicable illnesses like Legionnaires’ disease. The conditions for Legionnaire’s disease arise when standing, bacteria-infested water mixes with supply air and circulates throughout a ship’s HVAC system. However, passengers can also get in contact with Legionnaires’ disease in spas, showers, jacuzzis and whirlpools.

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What’s the solution?

HVAC systems are vital to the operation of cruise liners and as such are also the easiest and quickest source to contaminating passengers. Therefore, it it is a necessity to perform a routine service and maintenance to eliminate potential threats to ship occupants.

Green Air EnvironmentalTM provides an award-winning, chemical-free HVAC cleaning service to maintain the efficiency of HVAC systems in seafaring vessels. Our steam-cleaning process helps thwart the growth of harmful microbes along with algae and mold without the risk of contaminating a ship’s water supply. Green Air’s HVAC maintenance expertise systems includes condensate pans, coils, misting systems, and air handling units.

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Here’s an outline of steps you can take to improve the air quality for passengers of your cruise line.

1. Analysis of the services required – The first step requires a thorough analysis of the services required to improve/maintain a ship’s (or fleet’s) indoor air quality. This will set the tone and direction of improving your air quality.

2. Getting the HVAC and duct cleaned – Blocked ducts and conduits are the leading-cause of poor IAQ. Dirt, dust, debris, airborne microbes and other particles in the sea breeze are potential threats to these components. Cleaning and sterilizing these duct systems will not only provide a safe and healthy environment for the guests, but the staff as well.

3. Cleaning the exhausts – Apart from cleaning the HVAC system(s), it is imperative kitchen exhausts be regularly cleaned. The removal of fats, oils and accumulated particles reduces the risk of fire.

4. Eliminate mold – Mold is often a contributor to poor IAQ and the best method of removal through a steam cleaning of HVAC air ducts.

5. Surface sanitization – By maintaining sanitization best practices, you can rid the surfaces of your ship of germs and particles. Cleanings – when performed with regularity – will stop the spread of disease and infection aboard the vessel.

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Cruise liners IAQ may be lower than that of a polluted city. By adhering to proper safety procedures and practices, you can prevent the spread of deadly diseases to a major extent.